Wapahani volleyball coach Mike Lingenfelter sensed his team was divided earlier in the week, so he wrapped up practice last Tuesday by letting players voice their frustrations about their teammates, themselves and their coaches.
Lingenfelter wondered if airing their dirty laundry was a waste of time after his players didn’t really seem to be that unified in their next two matches. But on Saturday night with a Delaware County volleyball title on the line, the Raiders finally pushed the drama to the side and played all out for each other.
Class 2A No. 1 Wapahani put the pressure on 3A No. 1 Yorktown from the opening serve and withstood a letdown in the third set for a 25-18, 25-18, 17-25, 25-20 victory. This marked the first county title for the Raiders since 2008 and their record 15th overall.
“Anytime you play a team as good as Yorktown you’re going to naturally elevate your game,” Lingenfelter said. “I thought to be honest, it was the best effort of the year by far team wise. It was the first time that we had played as a complete unit all year long, and you had to. You don’t beat a team that good if you don’t — bottom line.”
Wapahani (21-3) halted a 17-match win streak and prevented a county four-peat for the Tigers (25-2). Their win streak started after losing to the Raiders in five back on Aug. 28. Wapahani accounts for the only two Yorktown losses this season.
“I think Wapahani just did a really great job,” Yorktown coach Stephanie Bloom said. “The hard part is I think they just really wore us down in games one and two. I don’t even remember a ball hitting the ground on their side. They did what they’re supposed to and that frustrates an opponent.”
The Raiders dictated play with their service pressure and by terminating from all directions.
Wapahani broke Yorktown down with its service pressure in the first match and managed the same Saturday by effectively mixing up its serves.
“We wanted to push and pull guys,” Lingenfelter said. “We wanted to push people deep by following with pulling them short. We didn’t want anything to become rhythmical. If they get into a rhythm, they’re the best team in the area by far.”
The Raiders surrendered eight aces, but overall, they stayed in system for a better portion of the match. Libero Paige Williamson, outside hitters Aubreigh Applegate and Lindi Thomas, and defensive specialist Katie Foster all passed with precision and chased down their share of balls for highlight-reel digs.
“I think it was mostly will and heart in breaking them down,” Williamson said. “Personally, my mentality is don’t let anything hit the floor. I’ve been working on it, because I’m not the best at it. I think we just got better, talked more and didn’t let the ball hit the floor.”
Wapahani setter Kiley Lingenfelter took those accurate passes and turned them into points by connecting with all of her hitters. Four Raiders notched double-figure kills in Applegate (20), Thomas (11), right-side Brittany Cline (11) and middle attacker Courtney Mitchell (10).
“When I have all of my hitters involved, the blockers never know where to go,” Kiley Lingenfelter said. “It worked really well tonight. I’m not complaining.”
The unusually error-prone Tigers never settled into the same rhythm with their attack. Yorktown reached double figures in hitting errors by the second set, and they committed one untimely two-hit violation after another.
Bloom told her players afterward that they lacked the fight Saturday that it takes to beat a team like Wapahani. She said similar words to them back on Aug. 28.
“That seems to be the message when we play Wapahani,” Bloom said. “They play with a lot of grits and guts. They really deserved to win. … They just go at you.”